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Chestnut Honey: A Healthy Natural Sweetener from Italy

Why Chestnut Honey is One of the Healthiest Honeys

Italian chestnut honey is a favorite among French and Italian gourmet chefs, but this bitter-sweet, almost savory honey has so much more to offer than just stimulation to the taste buds. Turns out, chestnut honey is one of the healthiest honeys (and sweeteners) out there thanks to its mineral content, exceptionally strong antioxidant properties, and powerful anti-bacterial properties. Continue reading to get the full scoop on the health benefits of chestnut honey, plus a couple of tips on where to buy chestnut honey, or Miele Di Castagno as they call this sweet 'gift of God' in Italy.

Chestnut Honey Contains Minerals

Unlike white sugar which is practically devoid of minerals, raw honey contains small amounts of these vital nutrients – one of the reasons why honey is considered healthier than table sugar. However, the mineral profiles and concentrations can vary considerably between different types of honey. Chestnut honey has been shown to be a particularly good source of potassium, calcium, and manganese. It has also been shown to contain more minerals than many other honeys.

Chestnut Honey's Proven Anti-Bacterial Properties

Honey is well-known for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, but some honeys, including chestnut honey, carry out their anti-bacterial activities better than others. A group of researchers from Spain found that chestnut honey had strong antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli; the other tested honeys had no activity against S. aureus and only weak activity against E. coli.

In addition, other research suggests that chestnut honey also has moderate antimicrobial activity against Helicobacter pylori, Bacillus subtilis, Candida tropicalis, and Candida albicans. It has been proposed that the antibacterial properties of chestnut honey might be partly related to its lysozyme content (lysozymes are enzymes that damage bacterial cell walls).

Exceptionally Strong Antioxidant Properties

In several studies comparing the antioxidant capacity of different types of honey, chestnut honey has come out on top. This dark-colored honey has also been shown to contain exceptionally high levels of phenolic acids, compounds that are likely responsible for much of its extraordinary antioxidant capacity.

As you may already know, antioxidants in foods like chestnut honey help protect our bodies from the harmful effects of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are generated by things like the sun's UV rays, smoke, drugs, pollution, pesticides, and metabolic processes.

By limiting your exposure to free radicals and by eating antioxidant-rich foods that neutralize these harmful molecules you can reduce your risk of many age-related diseases and health problems, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, pre-mature wrinkling of the skin, cataracts, and rheumatoid arthritis.

How to Use Chestnut Honey

The somewhat bitter flavor of chestnut honey makes this dark-colored honey ideal for all sorts of savory dishes. If you like its intense flavor, you can also spread it on toasted bread or use it as a healthy, natural sweetener in tea.

Where to Buy Chestnut Honey

Tuscany, Piedmont, and other regions in Northern Italy are among of the biggest producers of chestnut honey globally. Therefore, a visit to an Italian food store or another shop that sells Italian specialties may be a smart move if you're struggling to find chestnut honey in your local grocery store. When looking for chestnut honey, be aware that this specialty honey also goes by other names, including Miele di Fiori Castagno or Miele Di Toscano Castagno (in case of Italian chestnut honey), or Miel de Chataignier (in case of French chestnut honey).

It is also possible to buy chestnut honey online. Check out, for example, amazon.com's massive collection of chestnut honeys (or if you live in the UK, check out the chestnut honeys available from amazon.co.uk).

1. Murat Kucuk, Sevgi Kolayli, Sengul Karaoglu, Esra Ulusoy, Cemalettin Baltaci, and Ferda Candan (2007). Biological activities and chemical composition of three honeys of different types from Anatolia. Food Chemistry, 100(2), 526-534.
2. Leon-Ruiz V, Gonzalez-Porto AV, Al-Habsi N, Vera S, San Andres MP, and Jauregi P (2013). Antioxidant, antibacterial and ACE-inhibitory activity of four monofloral honeys in relation to their chemical composition. Food Funct, Sep 20 (Epub ahead of print).

Book You May Like
Healing Honey Book Lauren Feder, a recognized physician and an expert in holistic health, has distilled her knowledge into an inspiring book for all honey-lovers. Featuring over 75 honey-based recipes for better health, beauty and nutrition, Cooking Well: Honey for Health & Beauty is all you need to harness the healing powers of the precious gift of honey bees. To order a copy of Feder's book, head to Amazon.com or visit Amazon.co.uk.